Unless you’ve been living in a van down by the river, you already know that United Horsemen’s Group collects donations basically to promote horse slaughter. Somehow, UH president Dave Duquette believes this qualifies as a “charity” with the IRS. Duquette, along with Wyoming Rep Sue Wallis, maintain that there is a growing market for horsemeat in the U.S. although the only example they can cite is the Harvard University’s Faculty Club which had horsemeat on the menu before 1985.
In this latest Constant Contact email to their faithful horde, Dave Duquette is wah-wah-wahing about efforts to stop horse soring and tripping in addition to slaughter, thus ratcheting their usual foolery all the way up by suggesting that horse advocates are comparable to Nazis. While not everyone appreciates the deep thoughts that ejaculate unfiltered out of Duquette’s brain, if you need some theatre today, click to read his discussion of Mein Kampf while invoking the “N” word. I’m starting to feel like Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
UH cites the famous “First they came…,” prose, usually attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller, who goes on to list the groups the Nazis came for, but says he didn’t speak up because he wasn’t part of that group. Niemöller himself barely made it out of WWII alive, so it’s an appropriate cautionary tale. But Nazi analogies are almost never acceptable, unless in reference to actual, systematic mass torture, murder or genocide. And in this case, it’s downright asinine, because nothing we advocates have done is remotely comparable to what happened in Auschwitz in 1945. Is Duquette really likening us to Dr. Mengele, who performed experiments on live, fully conscious human beings to determine just how much pressure it would take to crush a skull?
It’s not the first time I’ve seen some of the more prominent members of UH compare us to Heinrich Himmler. One of Duquette’s biggest fangirls, Willing Servants’ Theresa Manzella, is under the impression that everyone around her is a vegetarian or vegan, which is un-godly according to her. Furthermore, she cites Hitler as a vegetarian, perhaps to further her thought process that vegetarians are also Nazis. People who inject Hitler into conversations about godliness would do well to start by googling the phrase imprinted on the belt buckles worn by the Nazis. It says “Gott mit uns” (God with us). No, the Nazis were not atheists – one important Nazi slogan was ‘Kinder, Kirche, Kueche” ( Children, Church, Kitchen). In any case, comparisons to Nazis are irrelevant in this example; it is also similarly fallacious to use the Nazis as an example of what might be wrong with Christianity.
Comparing anything that is not a dictator/mass-murderer to another dictator/mass-murderer is a logical fallacy known as the Reductio ad Hitlerum. In other words – you don’t get to call people Nazis just because you want to inflame or incite. Hitler’s vegetarianism was not a foregone conclusion but so what if it was? What if he was also left-handed, or a Taurus? Is that somehow a significant or relevant argument? Not eating meat, or being left handed does not contribute to their ideology to slaughter millions. What about Stalin or Pol Pot? Maybe they ate meat?
Reductio ad Hitlerum is also closely associated with Godwin’s Law, which is an internet adage named after Mike Godwin who actually wrote a short article about it for Wired Magazine back in 1994. Although the article was more about the power and danger of memes, it’s worthwhile reading for anyone interested in discussions on invalidating an argument or logical fallacies. The law was derived from the days of Usenet, which pre-existed the internet as we know it, and states that “if you mention Adolf Hitler or the Nazis within a discussion thread, you’ve automatically ended whatever discussion you were taking part in.” It means that, as a discussion gets longer it tends to get more heated; as more heat enters the discussion, tensions get higher and people start to insult each other over anything they can think of. Godwin’s Law merely notes that those tensions eventually cause someone to find the worst insults that come to mind – which will almost always include a Nazi comparison as a desperate last measure to insult someone before leaving the argument completely.
Hitler and the Nazis have a very special place in the pantheon of monsters. Duquette doesn’t realize how offensive this massmail is – “Godwinning” your argument just makes you look like a desperate fool, but “invoking the Holocaust” is completely polarizing while also being a deeply offensive comparison. It’s uber-offensive because while some things might approach it in terms of scale, nothing else is like THE Holocaust in terms of genocide, eugenics, racial superiority or totalitarian regimes. In addition to that, most Jews are offended when people claim something is as bad as the Holocaust or the Nazis, because they are justifiably offended when perpetrators of relatively minor evils are compared to Hitler. So, by invoking the Holocaust, perhaps we can assume that Duquette and United Horsemen’s Group are culturally insensitive to these observations about Nazi references and have realized that they are at the end of any factual discussion. I think they are also quite desperate – you might say that they are begging for money just like those rescues they abhor! Therefore, they know that they have nothing germane to add and are now flaming us and flinging shit up against the wall to see what will stick. Anyway, any person that can go so low as to over breed a sentient living being and then say, the colour is wrong, it’s too slow, it’s too old, and send it off to a horrific death for a pittance probably shouldn’t be dropping the “N” word on others in the first place.
I honestly wonder what the Anti-Defamation League would think of United Horsemen’s analogy. Sun Tzu once said: “All of warfare is deception. One must pretend to be weak while one is strong, and pretend to be strong while one is weak.” When your opponents invoke the Holocaust, they would be under the impression that they had won the argument, and lower their defenses. That is when you strike.